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Australian courts are seeing a world-first trial pending against Google that alleges that the search giant used deceptive business practices by selling off top search positions

Search giant Google is used to hearing good news, as its phenomenal growth continued, as it competitors such as Yahoo have shrunk.

However, Google received some bad news yesterday when the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) announced that it was taking a world-first legal action in charging Google in a Sydney, Australia Federal Court.  The ACCC accuses Google of using deceptive business tactics, where it will sell top search spots on its internet search engine for large fees.

It alleges that Google tries to market itself as a purely "organic" search engine, based on traffic, but instead directs much of its traffic based on prioritization, controlled advertising revenue.

Additionally the ACCC has another major legal accusation against Google. Online car retailer Trading Post breached the Trade Practices Act in 2005 when it paid Google to use the names of competitor NSW car dealerships Kloster Ford and Charlestown Toyota as hyperlinks to its own site.  These links appeared in Google's sponsored links section, and the resulting pages bore no affiliation to the Trading Post's competitors.

Kloster Ford filed a complaint when it discovered this partnership.

Trading Post created the links with AdWords, a Google commercial program that sets up hyperlinks.

Google Australia spokesman Rob Shilkin later responded to the claims by stating that the company remained committed to providing relevant information to search engine users.  The case is the first case of this nature against Google to reach a Federal Court.

Google has tried in recent years to promote itself as the voice of freedom of information on the web through its Google Earth service, and its recently release Google News service, among other projects, which makes these legal allegations particularly troublesome.





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